On SUNO, Racism And The Hayride

We had something of an issue come up yesterday on this site as part of the discussion surrounding the issue of the proposed merger of UNO and SUNO, and I’d like to address it and present some ground rules so folks know how things are going to work around here as we go forward.

Because I’m not going to spend a lot of time babysitting idiots while important things are happening all around us.

First, and I’m going to reiterate this, we’ve looked at studies of graduation rates all over the country and we can’t find a public university anywhere in America with a graduation rate worse than the five percent the federal Department of Education says SUNO has. We can’t even find one anywhere in American with a graduation rate worse than the nine percent SUNO claims. There are private schools which come close to SUNO’s numbers, but not many – and most of those are of the for-profit, online-degree variety where tuition rates are extremely low.

Second, or perhaps related to the first, our study of graduation rates included lots of schools which cater to an overwhelmingly African-American population, nontraditional students who have jobs and kids, or both. And like I said above, to the best we could find they all had superior graduation rates to SUNO.

Third, Katrina isn’t an excuse. In fact, Katrina has little to do with SUNO’s graduation rate – it was abysmal prior to the hurricane and it’s abysmal now. Or, put another way, SUNO didn’t graduate its students prior to the storm. Nothing has changed.

Fourth, SUNO generates that level of success in graduating students with a $40 million budget – which, broken out per student, comes to $13,000 a head. SUNO’s defenders can’t use the excuse that the school doesn’t have any resources given that figure.

So there are lots of objective reasons to support Gov. Jindal’s plan to merge SUNO with nearby UNO. If anything you could make a better argument against Jindal’s plan by saying SUNO ought to be shut down outright than to maintain the status quo. Evidence of this point can be found by the fact I’m joined in supporting Jindal by Gambit’s Clancy DuBos and Paul McRambles at NOLA Defender, neither of whom are exactly fans of Mark Levin or Rush Limbaugh.

But we had an outbreak here yesterday of something predictable – namely, accusations that because SUNO is targeted for removal by people looking for a better use of taxpayer dollars that this site is racist.

Going forward, here’s what our policy is going to be on that issue.

We don’t put up with racism – real racism – on this site. Try posting a racial epithet in the comments, for example, and you’ll find it difficult to last here. But we also won’t tolerate race-baiting, either. Throw around a baseless charge of racism, and you’ll get a polite but stern warning. Ignore the warning, and it’s sayonara.

Why? Because calling somebody a racist for the sin of disagreeing with you is a time-honored tactic intended to intimidate that somebody into shutting up. Those who use it are dishonest thugs. They’re not interested in debate; to the contrary, they play the race card in hopes of so poisoning the conversation that nothing productive can come from it.

In other words, they wield it as a cudgel.

But here, I can swing an even bigger stick than that. It’s a little button that says “Block IP” on it. I don’t need to descend into the swamps to shut down the debate with charges of racism; I can just ban people from the site.

I did it yesterday, and I’m happy to do it again. There are lots of other places for idiots to show their capabilities, and we’re not hurting for readers right now.



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